Jul 10

Aragon Tunic Front Finished

This means that the majority of the work is done, right?  Of course, it is the more tedious part that is left.

First, I must say that the pattern directions are rather stunning…perfectly amazing, actually.  They get a bit complicated, but if you take it slow and pay careful attention, you won’t have any problems.  I even managed to get through them without any mistakes, and I’m only ever paying moderate attention to my crocheting, as I’m usually doing it in front of the television.

I’m a little concerned that the neckline might be a bit low on me, or the belt loops a bit high, but I couldn’t figure an easy modification for that, so I just crocheted the pattern as is, hoping that everything will work out once the tunic is finished.  I’m not too worried, as I’ll always wear a shirt under this anyway.

Now, if I’d been smart, I would have blocked the back while I was working on the front.  I didn’t, so now I won’t be able to move on until I have blocked both pieces.  (I’ve only got room to lay out one piece at a time.)  At least it is warm enough that they will dry quickly, so I should be able to get started with the assembly in a couple of days.

Jul 06

Smokin’!

Finished the back of the Aragon Tunic tonight and am about to start the front.  I just love the little touches so far.  Example: the neck opening and top of the shoulders are slightly shorter to draw in the top of the tunic.  As a seamstress, I realize that this will pull everything towards the center when worn so that the shoulders don’t try to slip down.  Brilliant!

Jul 04

PADD Rears its Head

Okay, so I got distacted.  Who wouldn’t?  The new issue of Interweave Crochet arrived, coinciding with a trip to the Walnut Creek Joann’s, which has the best selection of yarn out of all the Bay Area Joann’s stores.  I couldn’t resist.

Okay, so I could have just gone home after a disappointing yarn search at Joann’s.  (It was really close though–if they’d have had two more skeins of lavender Spa, we’d have been in business.)  I didn’t have to look up local yarn shops on my GPS.  I didn’t have to stop at The Yarn Boutique in Lafayette.  And once there, I could have passed up the perfect yarn that practically jumped off the shelves at me.  Oh, and then I could have come home and stuck with the Spanish Moss coat that I’m in the middle of.

But no, I had to start the Aragon Tunic immediately.  It is really so darling–it was calling my name.

First of all, it really is a great summer garment for the Bay Area, where overnight fog is a common occurance.  Here, it’s all about layering.  Plus, I’ll be able to wear it well into the fall and winter just by changing the shirt I wear under it.  Again, the weather here is key–switch a tank for a turtleneck as the undershirt, and you’re good to go for our mild winters.  I also love the design.  It’s loose, but the belt cinches in above the waist to give some definition, avoiding the sack look.

Now, for my yarn choice.  Like I said, this stuff jumped off the shelf at me.  Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic, but it spoke to me.  It’s important to me to use natural fibers as often as I can.  It’s not always cost effective, and for some projects I’m willing to bend the rules, but I really want a warm weather garment to be able to breathe.   As a cotton/silk blend, this yarn is perfect; it will breathe, has a nice sheen to it, is super soft, and will have incredible drape, which I think will really step this tunic design up to a whole other level.  Now, the tag on the yarn didn’t say what weight it was, and I’m still not a very good judge of that.  It turns out that it is fingering weight, which is entirely off, as the pattern calls for DK.  I think even that will turn out alright, though, as I really did want my own tunic to be a bit lighter and a looser weave than the tunic pictured in the magazine.

The other issue that comes up with my yarn choice, especially because of the weight, is gauge.  Funny thing is, when I did my gauge swatch, it was pretty close to the correct size, even though I had gone down a hook size.  (On a side note, I almost always start by going down a hook size.  I must crochet very loosely compared to most other people, because I almost always have to go down at least one hook size to get the correct gauge.)  My gauge swatch was the right height, but was off in width by a quarter of an inch.  I compensated by going up one size; it will still end up larger than if I did the correct size in the correct guage, but I think it will be better to go a little larger rather than a little smaller with this tunic, since it is meant to be worn with quite a bit of ease.

At this point, I’m about a quarter of the way through with the back piece.  I’m loving the stitch pattern.  It’s a little bit intricate, so I do have to pay attention, but after a few repeats, I only have to check the pattern occasionally to remind myself of how a row begins or ends.  I love that it is sort of a fresh take on the traditional shell pattern, and that it makes the finished fabric look nice and lacey.

So far, this is shaping up to be one of my favorite crocheted garments.

Jul 02

Yay for Motivation!

I’m terrible about finishing projects, but after starting this blog yesterday, I figured I’d better get my butt in gear on wrapping up some of these loose ends.  (Literally, many of my Victorian collars simply need the loose threads woven in and blocking.)

So, when I got home from work this afternoon, I sat down and finished the final row of the Mignonnette collar from the Riego book, while watching Stargate (the movie).  And I didn’t stop there!  I actually went out to my sewing studio, woven in the loose threads, pinned everything into shape, and blocked it.  Woohoo!  Now, if I could only figure out how this shape of collar was worn.  I’ve seen vintage examples, but I’ve never seen one in period photographs.  The collar is only about a half circle, rather than a full or three-quarters, which I’ve seen plenty of pictures of.  I guess I’ll have to keep on searching and maybe do some experiments on my dressform once the collar is finished blocking.

Photos coming soon

Jul 01

Beginnings…sort of

I originally started my website to post dress diaries for my costuming hobby and book reviews for my reading addiction.  Of course, I pick up new hobbies like they are going out of style, and have recently returned to crochet and, shortly after, taught myself to knit.  It has been incredibly addictive.

So, I’ve decided that I need a blog dedicated to this hobby that is now taking up significant chunks of my time.  While I do enjoy posting  my projects on ravelry, I also want a space to just jot things down as I go, keeping a record of what I learn along the way.

Now, the fun part: what am I currently working on?

Victorian Collars

I’ve been working on several Riego patterns.  Eventually, my hope is to sell them on etsy, but I want to get a few more done so that I have a bit of stock to put up.  The one problem that I have been running into with the patterns is that I don’t think they were intended for us modern (uhum…larger) women.  The circumference of the first collar I made was only 13 inches before blocking.  Even after blocking, I’m afraid it won’t fit most modern women.  It’s possible to expand the pattern, though it takes a bit of math and a little guess work.  I’ve also had some luck with going up a hook size, though that doesn’t give me a whole lot more length to work with and will also increase the width of the collar, which are already a bit wider than most reenactors tend to wear.  At any rate, I obviously need to play around with this a bit more.

Another project I’m also in the middle of, which isn’t a collar, but it’s still Victorian, is a miser’s purse.  I’m using a Civil War era pattern, but I’ve found it necessary to modify it quite a bit.  The first problem I had with the pattern as written is that it does not give instructions for the beaded design within a striped section.  I guess the pattern maker assumed that everyone would know how to do a band of laurel in beads.  Not me.  I improvised with star bursts.  I ran into another problem when I got to the opening; now, it was easy enough to get the beads to the right side of my work when I was crocheting in the round, not so easy when I’m working back and forth for the opening.  After several attempts at trying to get the beads to stay on the correct side of the work, I gave up.  So, the opening will not have the beads around it as shown in the pattern.  Still, I’m liking the look of it, though I don’t think these are practical for selling, unless I can figure out a way to work much faster.  I suppose I could make some without beads; I’ll have to test that out to see.

Sweaters

I’m currently working on the Spanish Moss Coat from Interweave Crochet , Fall 2008.  I’ve got the back done and am working on the side front.  It is crocheted out of lace weight yarn, so it is taking forever, but it is a simple stitch pattern, so it’s been my TV watching project.

Socks

Well, my first few kniting projects have not been incredibly successful.  My stamina is partly to blame (i.e. I’m never going to finish the blanket I started as a way to practice cables).  The strug I made is cute, but let’s face it, I just don’t wear strugs all that often.  One sweater I made turned out WAY too big and had to be frogged.  Another sweater ended up with too wide of a neckline and can only be worn when it is cold enough for multiple layers…something that doesn’t happen too often where I live.

So, I’ve decided that my next project should be a pair of socks.  Fortunately, I had recently fallen in love with the perfect pair: the lace stockings found in Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009.  I got some inexpensive, though soft, yarn to start with, since I still really don’t trust my knitting skills, especially when I’m tackling a lace pattern.  I’ve made a few mistakes in the lace pattern so far, but nothing I couldn’t fix or fake.  Of course, I haven’t gotten to the gusset yet, so my confidence may be inappropriate this early in the game.  At any rate, I’m enjoying the challenge.

Apr 07

Other Ren Garb

A few other costumes I made for various Ren Faires.

Apr 07

Elizabethan Doublet

A Doublet for my brother.

Apr 07

Early Italian Gown

My early Italian Renaissance gown…more fantasy than history, but it was oh, so fun to wear!

Apr 07

Elizabethan Noble Woman

One of my very early attempts at a noble costume…can’t you tell?

Blue Noble Gown